The Maid’s Son: She’s Pregnant
By JJ Mponye:
I have had a rather busy day at work struggling on my own to attend to all the patients at the clinic. All that I am looking forward to is a nice warm bath, dinner to subdue this terrible hunger and a nice gentle massage to rub me into a peaceful slumber. But I have also learned not to raise my hopes too high.
Tricia, who is in the kitchen, screams the maid's name three times, “Monica, Monica, Monicaaaaaaaa!” Well, this happens almost every other day. The only strange thing this time is that Monica is not responding. She has not come out running to her boss. And I am deliberately not bothered.
As I wait for the usual cue to hit the bathroom, a part of me insists on tuning into NTV to watch the 9 O'clock news. Just to catch up with the craze of election campaigns. Tricia suddenly starts pacing up and down and mumbling. I over hear the usual, “I am going to kill her this time”, but simply ignore her and promise myself not to step in. She has been quite irritable of late and I don't want to get involved in wife-maid quarrels anymore. But maybe I should have stepped in immediately.
I hear a loud bang on the door before Tricia starts shouting at the top of her voice. Then a scream pierces through the air and is quickly followed by the maid crying, “Mummy, mummy, mummy”. I am determined not to get involved in the ongoing fight and simply turn up the volume on the TV set. I finally find myself jumping out of the sofa and rushing to Monica's bedroom when I hear her shouting, “Daddy nyamba. Daddy nyamba mummy anzita!” (Daddy help me, mummy is killing me!). I am shocked to find Tricia, standing over the maid, with a frying pan in her hand. She has never shown this kind of violence to any of the last five maids we have had. Monica, who is bleeding profusely, has also thrown up all over the floor. And the later has gotten my wife so vexed that she cannot even show any pity on this visibly sick girl.
The doctor in me quickly takes over as I push Tricia aside to attend to the girl. She is trembling with fear. She is so frail and defenseless. Besides the blood on her forehead, and the tears running down her cheeks, Monica also has a high fever. Tricia jeers at me and angrily mocks, “Stupid men! How dare you hold a housie like that as if she is your daughter? You even never hold me like that anymore! Just let her clean up my floor, pack up her bags and leave right now. I am fed up of lazy obstinate porridge-brained maids”. I manage to say, “But Tricia, this girl is sick! She is weak. She needs treatment. You cannot possibly do this to her”. Tricia bangs the door behind her leaving me with Monica. The girl picks one of her dirty skirts and wipes the vomit into it. She trembles out, “Sorry daddy”, but I know I should be the one saying sorry.
Tricia bursts into the room again and throws money at the maid while screaming, “There is your salary, get out of my house. Go! I don't want to see you again”. I know it is time for me to prevail over Tricia. I confidently raise my voice a little and begin my submission, “Honey, this girl is seriously ill. Remember she is a human being like you. She toils everyday to keep the house in order. She cleans, cooks, does all the errands and yet is paid peanuts. She works like a slave. Now that she is sick, the best we can do as her employers is to be human enough and treat her. You cannot just dismiss her because she is sick and has thrown up on your floor. You are not being fair”. What I have just done will certainly cost me: she will bring it up at some point like she always does. Her somewhat sarcastic remark, “Okay, take your maid to your clinic and treat her”, assures me she will use this against me in the near future. But one of us had to be sane: I was ready.
After running some brief tests, and having a small talk, I realize that Monica has malaria. And that she is pregnant! The later, we agree, will be our secret as we figure out how to deal with the situation. It is called doctor-patient confidentiality. But it also has its other dimensions. What is important for now is that this slave of ours has been treated with some form of respect. Like a human being!